A HE H&SCare student with the aspiration to become a Researcher/Psychiatrist with a primary focus on dark psychology and alternative.
Understanding Adolescent-on-Parent Violence and Abuse
The primary focus of family violence research is on intimate partner violence and child abuse, leaving limited reflection upon the circumstance of adolescent-on-parent violence and abuse (APVA) and child-to-parent abuse (CVA).
What Is Adolescent-on-Parent Abuse?
APVA/ CVA is a highly misunderstood, hidden, and stigmatized form of family violence. Adolescents may perpetrate physical and psychological violence toward their parents or caregivers with the intent to control.
When a Son Abuses His Mother
Ibabe and Jaureguizer's study reveals that 97% of aggression victims were mothers. In 83% of these cases, the perpetrator was the son.
Why Do Sons Abuse Their Mothers?
This correlation may be explained by the continual modeling of witnessed intimate partner violence or fearing the father. Although for severe APVA and parricide, research shows that fathers are the more likely victims of psychological violence perpetrated by daughters.
Why Teens Abuse Their Own Parents
It is common for parents to blame themselves for their children's behaviour, including aggression towards them. Adolescent violence is something hidden and generally only surfaces when the parent feels unable to control the situation.
Is It "Normal" or Is It "Abuse"?
Professionals may also determine that occasional aggression, violence, and conflict are a normal part of the process of emotional detachment that happens during adolescence.
Why Does Teen-on-Parent Violence Occur?
There are various reasons why an adolescent may become violent. These may include:
- Family Violence Exposure: When minors are exposed to family violence, they may repeat the behaviour witnessed. This can happen even if the adolescent is very young and no longer within an environment where violence occurs.
- Social Influence: Society and culture influence identity-seeking adolescents. Society's acceptance of violence and family figure stereotyping ideas may contribute to the approval of violence towards own parents.
- Peers: The adolescent may have been bullied or feel pressured by their peers resulting in them demonstrating externalising behaviours and being unable to express themselves correctly.
- Addictions: Misuse of substances leading to addictions and withdrawals when unable to attain their fixes may provoke an aggressive response to family conflicts.
- Mental Health: The adolescent may be experiencing a mental health condition and unable to express this correctly or potentially in denial, causing aggression.
- Parenting Styles: Strict parenting or physical discipline may lead to aggression developing in the adolescent. Relaxed parenting provides too much freedom or conflict in parental approaches where the minor manipulates.
- Parental Sacrifice: Feeling the need to sacrifice everything for the minor, including own happiness and wellbeing. Compensating for the family break up by over-providing.
Effects of Adolescent-on-Parent Violence
There are various effects on all family members when APVA occurs, including:
- Parental Stress: Parents may feel they are failing. The continued aggressive behaviour may cause a decline in the parents' emotional wellbeing and mental health conditions elaborated due to the stress of managing the circumstances. In severe cases self-harming and suicide may occur.
- Financial Difficulty: The adolescents' behaviour may also be unfavourable at school, leading to regular appointments/ meetings or absence from education due to exclusions. This may disrupt the ability to maintain employment, particularly if a single parent leads to financial hardship. Replacing damaged items or providing to the adolescent demands may lead to debt.
- Fear: The parent may develop fear towards the adolescent and become scared of what could happen to siblings, causing them to become overprotective of the other children. This fear may prevent parents from communicating and attaining assistance; therefore unable to avoid the exposure of violence to other children in the household or attend to their mental health.
- Isolation: The parent may isolate themselves to prevent confrontation and prevent others from becoming aware of the situation, and reduce interactions with others, mainly if they are family or other parents of adolescents. Damages within the home may prevent others, including supporting family members, from accessing the house.
- Conflicts With Neighbours: Due to the noise from conflicts that may occur at late hours, the neighbours' support could weaken and cause them to involve professionals increasing fear and feeling a failure in parenting abilities. The multiple reports may lead to the loss of home and children's services, causing anxiety and feeling invaded of privacy, although the professionals are providing support to reduce the violence.
- Decreased Parenting Ability: The parent may become less confident; therefore, reduced boundaries promote the behaviour to escalate may occur. Due to mental health and wellbeing affected, the parenting style may change, inhibiting the parent from being a positive role model and confident in their role as a parent.
Reconnecting With Your Teenager
If you are reading this due to experiencing APVA, you may feel you have done everything possible. Steps to take to reconnect with your teenager may include:
- Family Therapy: Engaging in counseling enables to build up communication skills between family members whilst promoting seeing from a new perspective which could assist in seeing there are more common grounds than thought earlier. Family therapy can also help manage the conflicts, reducing them in the long term to enable a positive foundation for relationships to develop.
- Firm Boundaries: Understand their needs and desires and consider their expectations. Developing new rules to the household that provide a positive element avoiding the 'Do nots' etc. an example ', Do not use bad language in the home' could become 'In our home, we demonstrate respect including our speech with clean language'. Remember to be a role model for these expectations. Promote the adolescent to partake in the expectations conversation.
- Praise: When you witness good behaviour, however small, give verbal credit; for example, the teenager has done the dishes without a prompt: 'It means a lot to me that you have taken your time to do the dishes today when you could have been with your friends, thank you'. Keep rewards simple and affordable.
- Communication: Whilst speaking to your adolescent, ensure to refrain from sounding accusatory or blaming them. Bring highlight to feelings and promote expression with an opportunity to talk about their concerns, respecting their wish not to confide. If they choose not to talk, remind them where you will be if they change their mind.
- Family Activities: Promote the engagement in activities they enjoy and are involved in family activities. Inform of activity and ask if they would like to come too. This provides the opportunity to ask more questions or decline respectfully. Remain positive and respect their decision, although it may be disappointing.
Putting You First
Remember that as a parent, your mental health and wellbeing are essential.
- Contact helplines
- Reach out to friends and family
- Engage with Children's Services and Early Help Teams for support
- Maintain communication with all professionals involved
- Take time for you
- Engage in joyful activities
- Contact the doctor if mental health becomes a concern
Remember there is no rulebook for parenting, and as long as you are doing your best and gain support when needed, you are the best parent to your child.
- Adolescent to Parent Violence: A resource booklet for parents and carers
- Ibabe, I. (2019). Adolescent-to-Parent Violence and Family Environment: The Perceptions of Same Real
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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